Features — 09 December 2014 — by Adele Ramos
Cuba, CARICOM aim to widen trade amid calls on US to end Cuba embargo

BELIZE CITY–At the 5th CARICOM-Cuba Summit which opened in Havana, Cuba, this morning, leaders of the region reaffirmed their commitment to trade collaboration with their sister Caribbean country, Cuba, amid renewed calls for the United States to end its 50-year-old trade embargo against Cuba.

Cuban president, Army General Raul Castro Ruz, while acknowledging his country’s economic difficulties, asserted, “we will honor our pledge to cooperate and share our modest achievements with our sister nations in the Caribbean.”

Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said that a practical machinery had to be established to expand trade and investment between CARICOM and Cuba. Central to such machinery is effective and affordable transportation for the movement of goods and people between our countries, he added.

“In this connection, I call on this Summit meeting to place high priority on creating mechanisms to move goods, services and passengers throughout our countries. I am convinced that if Cuba and CARICOM countries can jointly build a transportation network, all our economies will benefit,” he commented.

Chairman Browne also called on the United States President and Congress to end their country’s “senseless embargo of Cuba now.”

Browne said that it is up to the Caribbean countries to be creative and ingenious in the ways in which they bolster each area of cooperation between CARICOM and Cuba.

“On matters such as climate change and global warming; on financial services and the dictates of the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; on the marginalization of our concerns by the G20, we should be coordinating our positions and acting in unison. We may not be able to stand up to them alone, but they cannot ignore us if we stand up together,” Browne said.

President Castro said the challenges of the 21st century have forced “us to unite in order to face together the effects of climate change and natural disasters and to coordinate our approach to the post-2015 Development Agenda.”

He additionally highlighted the need for collective action to fight the dominant mechanisms imposed by the unfair international financial system.

Castro also announced that Cuba had conducted studies on climate change dangers, vulnerabilities and risks and was already implementing a macro-project named “Coastal Dangers and Vulnerabilities 2050-2100”. He furthermore offered to share Cuba’s lessons from the experience with CARICOM, since the project involved an assessment of the health condition of coastal dunes and mangroves, as well as evaluation of the beaches, coastal settlements and infrastructure, which are issues of concern to most of CARICOM’s member states.

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